If you hang around courts long enough, regardless of which side of the law you’re on (ahem), you’re bound to see some crazy things. Usually, the craziness comes from the litigants in the court cases, but sometimes judges lend their own sense of loopiness to the proceedings when they hand down their sentences. Here are 14 such instances of unusual sentencing, be they “creative” or “crackpot.”
Noise Ordinance Violators Forced to Listen to Barry Manilow
Fort Lupton, Colorado: In the small town of Fort Lupton, Judge Paul Sacco gives people who blast their car stereos too loud a taste of their own medicine by forcing them to listen to blaring music for an hour. The music is designed to be as grating as possible to the offenders, whose music of choice tends to be hip-hop and rock ‘n roll: Barry Manilow, Dolly Parton, classical music, nursery rhymes, TV theme songs and maybe a show tune or two. No word on what happens if someone is arrested for blasting “Copacabana.”
Men Sentenced to Dress in Drag
Coshocton, Ohio: Judge David Hostetler gave Jason Householder, 23, and John Stockum, 21, two options of punishment for throwing beer bottles at a woman in a car: 60 days in jail or an hour of walking through downtown Coshocton in dresses, wigs and makeup. They chose the dresses. The punishment was meant to teach the young men to respect women, but it may have just taught them how to walk in heels.
Judge Rules Sex Offender Is Too Short for Prison
Sidney, Nebraska: Convicted child molester Richard W. Thompson, 50, was given 10 years’ probation in lieu of prison time when Judge Kristine Cecava declared that the 5-foot-1 man’s stature, combined with the nature of his crime, would put him in danger in jail. Wait, you mean jail is dangerous?
Man Forbidden to Have a Girlfriend
Ontario, Canada: Arrested for attacking his ex-girlfriend, Steven Cranley, 24, was declared by doctors to have difficulty coping with rejection and was thus ordered by Judge Rhys Morgan to refrain from “a romantic relationship of an intimate nature with a female person” for three years. During that time, he received counseling, but half-way through his sentence, he again assaulted a female acquaintance (a different one) and was sentenced to two years in jail.
Judge Arrests Entire Courtroom
Niagara Falls, New York: Later claiming to have been under stress in his personal life, Judge Robert Restaino went ballistic one day in 2005 when he heard a cell phone ring in his courtroom. When the offender didn’t step forward to confess, Restaino pulled the equivalent of a grade school teacher making the class put their heads on their desks and arrested the entire courtroom. Fourty-six people were thrown in jail. Thirty-two of them posted bail and the rest were shackled and bused to another facility. Restaino ordered them released later that day, but the damage had been done; the judge was relieved of his position.
Judge Makes Slumlord Live in His Own Building
Cleveland, Ohio: In what sounds like something out of a Joe Pesci movie, landlord Nicholas Dionisopoulos, who owned over 40 run-down properties in Cleveland, was sentenced to six months’ house arrest in one of the units, where he presumably experienced a series of wacky pratfalls before finally realizing the err of his ways — unless Hollywood lied to us. He was also fined $100,000.
Man Sentenced to Church
Davenport, Iowa: Running out of patience with longtime criminal Pachino Hill, 29, Judge Christine Dalton sentenced the man to eight weeks of church, along with counseling and probation. Within 10 months, he was on trial again, this time for vehicular manslaughter in relation to a home invasion — not to mention a his involvement in a separate stabbing.
Six-Year-Old Boy Sentenced to Traffic School
Los Lunas, New Mexico: When a woman was ticketed because her six-year-old son wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, she expressed her frustration that the boy refused to stay buckled up and would repeatedly undo the restraint while she drove. She asked Judge John Sanchez for help, so he sentenced the grade schooler to traffic school — specifically, a seatbelt safety class specially designed for the child.
Man Ordered to Wear “Sex Offender” T-shirt at Work
Newark, Delaware: Convicted of exposing himself to 10-year-old girl while on the job, 69-year-old Russell Teeter was sentenced to 60 days in jail, with the unusual stipulation that upon his release, he must wear a t-shirt reading “I am a registered sex offender” at work for 22 straight months. Teeter should consider himself lucky on a couple of counts: 1) he’s self-employed, running a gardening business with his (delusional?) wife, and 2) the sentence seems pretty light, considering his 10 indecent exposure convictions since 1976.
Woman Has to Eat Bread and Water
Houston, Texas: Convicted of animal neglect that led to the euthanization of one of her horses, 28-year-old Melissa Dawn Sweeney was sentenced to 30 days in jail, the first three with nothing to eat but bread and water — which was “more than her horses got,” according to Judge Mike Peters. I guess a riding crop would’ve been out of the question.
Court Agrees to Give Rapist Lighter Sentence If Victim Agrees to Marry Him
New Delhi, India: Pushing forgiveness to the extreme, a New Delhi court asked a rape victim to consider marrying her attacker because she’d have few other options due to the stigma of being raped. If she said yes, the court would actually reduce the man’s sentence — presumably so they could spend more time together? Thankfully, she refused the offer, and the rapist was sentenced to life in prison, where he may very well catch his own case of stigma.
Drunk Driver Ordered to Carry Photo of Dead Victim
Butler, Pennsylvania: When Jennifer Langston, 27, was convicted of driving drunk and causing the accident that killed Glenn Clark and put his pregnant wife in a coma, she was sentenced to only 30 days in jail and ordered to carry a photo of Clark so that she could reflect on her actions. When the picture provided by the victim’s mother turned out to be that of Clark in his coffin, Langston protested, apparently not appropriately relieved at her light sentence. However, Judge George Hancher insisted, and she was forced to carry the photo with her for five years.
- Sentenced three men convicticted of soliciting prostitutes to an hour on the street dressed as chickens.
- Ordered a man who stole a Salvation Army donation kettle to spend a night homeless.
- Made a man who called police officers “pigs” stand on a street corner with a pig wearing a sign that read “This is not a police officer.”
- Made two men who shot paintball guns at a house shoot their own car.
- Ordered a couple of teens who vandalized a nativity scene to walk down the street with a donkey and an apology sign reading “Sorry for the jackass offense.”
- Ordered a woman who abandoned kittens in a park to spend a night in the woods.
- Sentenced a man who killed his dog to dress up like a “safety dog” and educate elementary schools.
- Made a teenager caught stealing adult videos stand outside the store blindfolded with a sign reading “See no evil.”
- Had a woman who stole money from a church spell out an apology in coins in front of the church, reading “I stole coins from this church and apologize to each worshipper as they enter the church.”